There have been a lot of stories lately about people in tech being, frankly, jerks. And that is really putting it mildly in some of these cases. Either it's a guy beating his girlfriend, and then calling himself the victim, or another one calling one of his co-workers a "piece of shit" on Twitter. There was also the guy who thought it would be hilarious to make jokes about mass murder and another who loves to call women "bitches" and "sluts" in private.
What all of those stories really do, besides make me want to wretch, is a guy like Mark Zuckerberg seem that much more likeable.
Getting a boatload of money at a very young age is typically not condusive to becoming a good person (not to generalize or anything but... ok, fine, I'm generalizing. But you know it's true!) Yet, Zuckerberg has bucked the trend: he and his wife were the most charitable people in 2013, and now they are continuing their philanthropic ways.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are donating $120 million to Bay Area schools, he revealed in a column for the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday night.
"Helping improve the quality of public education in this country is something we both really care about. Priscilla has devoted her life to helping children from underserved communities as a pediatrician and as a teacher," he wrote.
"I've been engaged with education issues over the past few years, and last year I taught an after-school program on entrepreneurship at a public middle school in the Belle Haven community of Menlo Park."
As he noted, the couple has made education reform around the country one of their top priorities over the last few years. Zuckerberg founded the Startup: Education foundation in Newark, New Jersey, and personally donated $100 million to the Newark public school system.
In December of last year, Startup: Education, along with Bill Gates’s The Gates Foundation, participated in a $9 million philanthropic investment in EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit aiming to help K-12 schools get connected to reliable, high-capacity Internet access.
The new donation, which is being funneled through Startup: Education, will be used toward iniatives that "provide computers and connectivity in schools, as well as teacher training and parent outreach to make these a really valuable addition to the learning experience. Funds will also support leadership opportunities for students, more effective transitions for students moving from middle school to high school, and leadership training for principals," he said.
The first $5 million will be used to support priorities in mid-peninsula school districts, including the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto/Belle Haven, Redwood City School District and several other high need communities in San Francisco.
These are communities that are underserved. Last year, for example, in the Ravenswood School District, less than 40% of its students were proficient on state tests in English language arts and less than 50% in math last year.
"Today's announcement is just a small step toward the change we need to achieve in our community and our country, but it's another step in a journey we expect to spend the rest of our lives on," Zuckerberg said. "Education is something worth investing in and if we can help make things better it will make all of our lives better."
Zuckerberg's charitable donations
Together, Zuckerberg and Chan donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock last year along, which amounted to a whopping $992.2 million. according to a list put out by The Chronicle of Philanthropy in February.
The money was given to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Mountain View. Zuckerberg previously donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock to the same charity in 2012, which was then worth $500,000.
While there were other Silicon Valley titans on the list, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin who, with his wife Anne Wojcicki, donated $219 million to the Brin Wojcicki Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who donated $72.2 million to the Lawrence Ellison Foundation, Zuckerberg came out far and ahead.
In fact, if you add up what the Zuckerbergs donated in the last two years alone, it comes to a total of just under $1.5 billion.
Of course, he's got a long way to go before he can match someone like Bill Gate, who has donated $28 billion of his own money to o the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But Zuck's got plenty of time to try and match it.
(Image source: nymag.com)